x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Mariano Rivera will save to save his best for last next year

Surely we have not seen the last of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera; the image of him being carted off can't be the lasting one.

Mariano Rivera, centre, grimaces after twisting his right knee shagging fly balls during batting practice. Originally thought to not be too serious, the injury turned out to be a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the knee.
Mariano Rivera, centre, grimaces after twisting his right knee shagging fly balls during batting practice. Originally thought to not be too serious, the injury turned out to be a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the knee.

Surely we haven't seen the last of the New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

Baseball's all-time leader in saves (608) and post-season saves (42) - the master of finishing games for the past 18 seasons in New York - cannot possibly finish his career crumpled in a heap in the outfield in Kansas City, can he?

The image of Rivera being carried off the field after tearing the anterior crucial ligament in his right knee while catching fly balls before a game in Kansas City cannot be the lasting one. He has made a Hall of Fame career out of finishing strong and that is what he will do.

Rivera vows to return from knee surgery. He says he was leaning toward returning next season even before his injury. "I didn't even have chance enough to taste the season," Rivera said. "It will be hard to just put it down and walk away."

A blood clot in Rivera's right calf complicated things, but he still needed time to strengthen his knee before undergoing surgery anyway.

If the Yankees struggle - they were 17-14 and fourth in the AL East heading into the weekend - it will only add fuel to Rivera's fire. And for the pitcher who made a career out of throwing one pitch - the cut fastball - his singular focus will get back next year.

It is not an arm injury. At age 42, Rivera could still command his cutter, as he was five for six in save opportunities with a 2.16 ERA in nine games when injured.

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